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Allegiance Hackathon — Ideas Generated and Lessons Learned

At Allegiance we pride ourselves on creating innovative products that make our customers’ jobs easier and gain insights faster. It is this spirit of innovation that lead to the award-winning data mining product Spotlight®, the recently released skip logic visualizer, and many more enhanced features that no one else in the industry offers.

However, like many who live at the forefront of innovation, we must continuously remind ourselves to keep one eye on the day-to-day activities while maintaining our long-term commitment to our roadmap. In order to isolate ourselves from our routine, we scheduled our first Allegiance Hackathon–the first of many to come.

The Hackathon intended to create a forum for our engineers, product managers, and designers to be free to create and experiment without processes, stories, and deadlines. It embraced lean thinking adopted by many startups to achieve quick resolutions—failing faster in order to succeed faster. We would spend two days building fast, demonstrate and gather feedback often, make decisions and iterate. The focus of our inaugural event was on the client extensibility framework of our survey builder, Bonfire. Bonfire’s client extensibility allows users to include any Javascript framework to manipulate various survey elements using Javascript and CSS (Cascading Stylesheets).

The Hackathon was a two day geek-fest kicked off early on a Monday morning by setting goals and defining objectives for the time ahead. By the second hour the whiteboard was filled with more than 20 ideas in five different buckets—Mobile, Third Party Integrations, Bonfire Wrappers, New Channels, and Style/Appearance.

Fueled with caffeine and a wide array of munchies we forged ahead. While we each hacked away at our individual solutions we also collaborated and made the best use of each other’s expertise. Every few hours the projector was whirred up and everyone in the office was invited for a presentation of a completed hack! Some hacks were greeted with a jig and others with suggestions for improvement. The room was filled with a synergy and collaborative spirit with good spirited jabs and a healthy dose of heckling.

By the end of day two we had created more than a dozen different hacks. Many of them have the potential to be productized soon, while all of the hacks provided technical insights and know how. Here are a few highlights:

The Brandinator. It has been proven that reiterating the brand in the survey can help increase response rates and improve brand affinity. The Brandinator allows users to navigate to their corporate home page and with the help of a small script snippet pick from various colors found on the page to create a new survey theme.


Constant Sum Visualizer. Constant Sum is a useful question type for gaining insights about share of wallet and allows respondents to rate the relative importance of one attribute above others. Though useful, it is sometimes difficult for respondents to fill. So, we hacked the Constant Sum visualizer is a simple pie chart that fills as the user types numeric values for each attribute, making it a little easier and more fun to fill out the question.

Mobile Link. For providing a survey on a tablet or mobile device that can be used to collect feedback at any retail location or kiosk, we created the mobile link. Mobile Link is a two-step process to place an icon to launch the survey on any the landing screen of a mobile device or tablet.

In Context Streams. To provide survey respondents with a context of a product or location a hack was created to easily embed third party information like weather, twitter feed, and others based on a variable in the survey.

Other noteworthy hacks included:

  • Mobile Health App: A mobile application that allows survey administrators to quickly assess the health of their surveys—are invites going out, are response rates as high as expected, and more
  • Drag and Drop Rank: increase respondent engagement in the survey by providing a more intuitive interface for ranking
  • Dynamic Theme Selector: display a different theme (brand) in the survey based on a prepopulated variable
  • Question Randomizer: prevent respondent bias by randomizing questions on a page
  • The A/B Tester: enables two versions of a survey question to be displayed to sets of respondents
  • Verbatim Richifier: encourage respondents to provide longer comments
  • RTL Wrapper: support right to left languages like Arabic Hebrew, and Urdu
  • Auto Submit: on pages with a single question, automatically submit the page as the respondent answers to reduce the number of clicks
  • We even integrated to Bitcoin for the fun of things!


What’s next?

We’ve been showing some of our creations to customers and internal stakeholders. A few of our ideas have received positive feedback and we will productizing them soon.

Most of all, the event allowed us to strengthen team ties, let our imaginations run wild, make mistakes, and learn from them. In the words of one of my favorite authors, “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

We will keep you updated on more Hackathons at Allegiance and would highly recommend it for any organization. In the meantime, if any of the above excites you please do drop us a line and let us know!